Proposals to Change the GI Bill

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By Debbie Gregory.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill is the most generous education benefit that the US military has ever offered its members. The Post-9/11 GI Bill offers Veterans, no longer on active duty, the full price of college tuition, a stipend for books and supplies, and a monthly housing allowance equal to E-5 with dependent BAH. Since 2009, the current GI Bill has aided over a million Veterans in achieving their academic and professional goals. The benefit is generous and wonderful, but it is far from perfect. Currently, there are several proposals milling about congress intended to upgrade the GI Bill.

Currently, a service member must decide whether to use the GI Bill or to transfer the benefit to a dependent before they separate or retire from active duty. One proposed bill, HR 3514, is designed to change this rule, to allow service members 5 years after separation to make that decision.

Bill HR 3515 is a proposal meant to change the current maximum age for dependents to use their transferred Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit from 26 to 29. This change is desirable for dependents seeking advanced degrees, giving them three more years of eligibility to start using their benefit.

Children of Armed Forces members killed in action are already given separate education benefits that provide them with GI Bill Benefits. HR 3441 in the House and S1039 in the Senate are designed to provide surviving spouses with Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. The proposal would allow widowed spouses 15 years to use their benefit, and stipulates that the spouse will only be eligible if he or she does not remarry.

Many Veterans suffer from injuries and disorders, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), that may cause the 3515m difficulty in school. S 2225 is proposing that Veterans who suffer from a service-related brain injury or PTSD be given an extra 18 months of eligibility to use their benefits.

Senate bill S2110 is meant to assist wounded Veterans.  If the proposal passes, wounded Veterans would receive an additional month of eligibility for each month they were hospitalized under DOD medical care, added to their 15 year post-service time limit to use benefits.

S 2266 is designed to help give Reservists who served on the front lines the same benefits as active duty service members. Currently, Reservists only receive a percentage of benefits that former Active Duty members receive based on time spent active. A Reservist with three to six months of active time only receives 40% of the Housing Allowance. Under the proposed change, Reservists who served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, or Operation New Dawn would be allotted their training time to count as active time in order to boost them into eligibility for 100% of the benefits.

Formerly, 100 foster children of service members had Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits transferred to them. Under the rules of the original GI Bill, these dependents were cut off and forced to repay for benefits received. HR3600 is designed to right this wrong and send those 100 military dependents back to school, and make a way for thousands of other foster children of service members to use their parent’s benefits.